Monday, October 10, 2011

That I experienced some genuine "self" help

Fiction is the genre I enjoy writing most, but when I visit libraries and bookshops I also love to browse the self help and personal development sections. I'm always open to the idea of improving something and if any of these books contain ideas I've been overlooking all my life, so much the better. They often boost my mood when I read them; particularly those with lively anecdotes and stories. Perhaps anybody who has been borrowing and purchasing self help books for as long as I have ought to have their act far more together than I do. That's an interesting thought.

Once I found a website which listed what the compilers called history's Top 100 self help books. I realised that I'd already read a huge chunk of them, which left me puzzled. Surely, in that case, I ought to have what it takes then, whatever "it" is. My husband said, "Maybe you have too many self help books. I think people ought to choose just one and then stick to it."

Well, recently I found Og Mandino's The Greatest Miracle in the World in a second hand shop for 10c, which proved to be a great bargain. It's a personal development book disguised as a fictional story. The mentor character, Simon Potter, tells Mandino that he'd spent several years dissecting all the great self help books which had ever been written, trying to extract their essence. He listed Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, James Allen, Napoleon Hill and many others I've read over the years. Finally, he was able to compress their messages down to 5 main points, a bit like reducing a scientific substance to its chief elements. Rather than suggesting you all go out to buy the book, I'll tell you what they are.

1) Count your blessings.
2) Recognise and appreciate your uniqueness.
3) Go the extra mile.
4) Use your power of choice wisely.
5) Do all of the above with an attitude of love.

It made a lot of sense to me, especially as God IS love. I'm sure that anybody who follows each of these straightforward suggestions consistently cannot help improving their mindset and condition.

Now, here is the unexpected thing that helped me. I'd just done something silly which I was paying myself out over, and I wanted to forget about. I don't know why, but I randomly decided to read a few pages of A Design of Gold, one of my own novels I've written. It was published in 2009 and since then, I've worked on two others and forgotten some of its finer details. Well, I found myself drawn into the story of how my characters Michael and Jerome had fallen down a pit (an apt analogy but pardon the pun). Their feelings and points of view really struck home with me. I even felt like cheering them on as they realised that they needed to change their thinking patterns to improve their lives. It was great for me to re-visit these two young guys with a fresh perspective.

I decided that the advice they gave each down the mineshaft was good and to take it on board myself. It was all about how a simple shift in the way individuals think about themselves can make an enormous difference to their personal satisfaction levels, even when nothing else changes. Can characters actually be wiser than the author who wrote them? Well, I have to say yes, I think so. At least we all may forget some of the wisdom we once knew. I was smiling for the rest of the day, to think that a story I wrote back in 2008 was now coming back to bless me. It felt a bit surreal in a very pleasant way. I never would have thought of myself as a self help agent, but hey, why not? Maybe I didn't need to spend all the money on self help resources.

Then I couldn't help thinking of the story of Balaam in the Old Testament. If God can choose to speak through a donkey, I guess He can speak through me.

I am down to my last 20 copies of the novel concerned, A Design of Gold. I've been selling them for $20 but I'm willing to sell them for $15 now to clear them. I'm not mentioning the $5 discount on my website because I'd like to do something nice for readers of this blog. If you haven't read this book before and would like to take advantage of my offer, please send me a message either through email (from my website) or my Face Book page, mentioning that you read my offer on my blog, and I'll be sure to get one to you promptly. That wasn't my intention when I first started writing this, but just occurred to me as I got near the end. See, I'm an impromptu sort of person at times.


  1. I love that Paula - how your own writing ministered to you. I have one manuscript - not published yet - that changed my life in the writing of it. I hope one day it can impact others the way it did me. :)

  2. love the post Paula and when I read the 5 points I thought you could actually get all that out of the bible, which is probably the best self help book there is.
    I remember the scene you mentioned and I did like it and the shift in thinking.

  3. Yep, I love those 5 points!
    And liked what Jenny said about them all being in the Bible too.
    Funny how we know some things and can write about them, but later forget them. (It is nice when we stumble on them again too.)

  4. Hi ladies,
    Yep, I thought those 5 points are quite neatly summed up in the Bible too, making that our ultimate self help manual.
    Amanda, you're trying to intrigue us now. I'm sure we all will agree, when we get a chance to read it some day.

  5. Paula that is quite amazing. How awesome to go back over your work and find wisdom in there you had forgotten - or not realised you knew!

  6. Hi Helen,
    Yes, it was one of those surreal, 'a-ha' sort of moments that come unexpectedly.

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